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Your best ideas for growth won’t come from where you think they will

Nov. 1, 2020
An amazing patient experience is one of the biggest competitive advantages a dental practice can have. But there are some practices that take it a step further and are completely patient-centric in everything they do. How do they do this?
Jay Geier, Founder, Scheduling Institute

Do you think of yourself as a dentist or as a business owner? Take this quick test: when news magazines publish their annual lists of best customer service companies, best workplaces, and most innovative companies, do you read about the amazing ways these companies are serving and satisfying customers? Do you think about how you might apply those concepts to your business? Or do you think, “That’s impressive, but we’re different. None of that is relevant to my dental practice.”

Nonsense! Change your mindset. You own a business, and that business just happens to be a dental practice. 

Read the Forbes article, “The 10 most customer-obsessed companies of 2019.” It says, “An amazing customer experience is one of the biggest competitive advantages a company can have. But there are some companies that take it a step further and are completely customer-centric in everything they do. These companies put customers at the center of every decision they make. They are customer-focused over being product-focused. That centricity is evident in great service and a cohesive customer experience.”1

Now, shift your paradigm and accept this as the way it could be in your business. “An amazing patient experience is one of the biggest competitive advantages a practice can have. But there are some practices that take it a step further and are completely patient-centric in everything they do. These practices put patients at the center of every decision they make. They are patient-focused over being treatment-focused. That centricity is evident in great service and a cohesive patient experience.”

How to be patient-centric

Once you accept this as the way it could—and should—be, you’ll be motivated to look outside of the dental industry for ideas that will set you apart from your competition. You’ll be inspired by how renowned companies treat customers, handle service issues, train and treat their employees, develop their service cultures, and continuously improve. Together with your team, you’ll have fun finding creative ways to adapt new ideas, tools, and systems in ways that make you stand out to existing patients and create a reputation that attracts new patients.

Great companies can’t deliver such an amazing service experience without talented and committed people and a culture that reinforces desired behaviors. In other words, the employment experience you create for your team members will make or break your ability to deliver an outstanding patient experience. 

Let’s face it, your team has a great deal more to do with the overall experience than you do. Your people need to be engaged and committed to creating a patient-centric culture. They must have positive attitudes and feel good about what they do and how they do it. Empower them by investing in training so that they understand what an exceptional patient experience looks and feels like and how to deliver it.

Top-rated companies are also known for problem-solving and innovation; they’re always looking for ways to better serve customers and improve lives. Think that doesn’t apply to you? In a dental practice, innovation isn’t about inventing a new piece of equipment or a breakthrough clinical technique (although you could!). For you, innovation should include adapting best practices from other businesses to improve your patient experience in unexpected and exceptional ways. 

I’m not saying there aren’t lessons to be learned within the dental industry, but, be strategic about who you choose to learn from. Just as you should take financial advice only from people who make more money than you do, you should look for business advice only from practices or businesses that are ahead of yours. That means what they’re doing is working better than what you’re doing. 

Most of all, look at companies that are outpacing the competition in their own industries. It’s a guarantee they are having to look outside to find innovative ideas to keep them at the top of their games. A long time ago, my team and I at Scheduling Institute made the decision to commit to 10-times growth. That way we know we are always ahead of those we teach, and even ahead of those in our top coaching program that are on a five-times growth plan.

To quote Dr. Randy Ross and David Salyers, best-selling authors of Remarkable!: Maximizing Results Through Value Creation: “What you do is what you do; how you do it is what makes you different.”2 

Critically assess your current patient experience from end to end: 

  • Patients’ first phone call or online interaction
  • What patients experience between the phone call and when they come in
  • What they think the moment they walk into the lobby and look around
  • How they’re greeted
  • How they’re made to feel by every team member 
  • How treatment or billing issues are handled
  • How patients are recognized and celebrated

Then create a vision for becoming a “category of one” in your market. Follow the lead of top-performing dental businesses that model themselves after top-performing companies and how they deliver exceptional customer experiences. Your performance will lead to referrals from existing patients, and your reputation will attract new patients. And, as we all know, that steady stream of new patients is the single most essential element of practice growth!  


1. Morgan B. The 10 Most Customer-Obsessed Companies of 2019. Forbes. December 20, 2019.
2. Ross R, Salyers D. Remarkable! Maximizing Results Through Value Creation. Baker Publishing Group. 2016.

JAY GEIER is the founder of Scheduling Institute and creator of the original 5-Star Telephone Training Program. This program is the first step for dentists to increase new patients immediately and grow their practices in a patient-centric way. Geier is offering Dental Economics readers a custom “Blind Spot Analysis,” which gives private practice owner doctors proof of an enormous blind spot within their practices and how to repair it. Visit to receive your custom Blind Spot Analysis today.

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